Switch off specifically to save
France in crisis mode: planned power cuts in winter
12/01/2022, 1:35 p.m
France has long struggled with its power generation because of its vulnerable nuclear power plants. Energy must therefore be saved in winter, there is a risk of power failures. For this purpose, the electricity should be switched off in a targeted manner. Prefectures should draw up plans, and citizens should find out the day before whether they are affected.
France is preparing for possible hourly blackouts in winter. Up to six million people could be affected at the same time, as could schools, trains and metros, government circles said on Wednesday evening. A crisis team that includes several ministries is currently working on a hypothesis of six to ten power outages in winter.
The prefectures will soon be asked in writing to prepare scenarios to reduce electricity consumption to 38 percent of average consumption. Hospitals, patients who rely on electrical devices at home, fire stations, police and various industrial sites would not be affected by the two-hour power outages.
In the event of a crisis, the electricity will not be turned off in the entire department, but only in smaller, previously defined areas. The population should be informed by 5 p.m. the day before at the latest. Power outages affect the peak consumption times between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Even schools could remain closed
It is therefore possible that schools cannot open in the morning because they cannot switch on the lights, heating or alarm. So far it has only been a preparation for a crisis. “We only turn off the electricity when it is very cold, when there is a problem with production or the connection to neighboring countries and consumption is not reduced sufficiently,” government circles said.
The French government has called on households and companies to reduce their energy consumption by ten percent. So far, this has mainly been felt in industry, a spokesman for the network operator RTE told the broadcaster FranceInfo. There are even larger margins, especially in the service sector, for example in the heating and lighting of office buildings.
Paris turns off neon signs
Households and companies are called upon to heat indoor spaces to a maximum of 19 degrees. In Paris, neon signs must be switched off between 11:45 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Thursday. The capital is thus anticipating a regulation that will come into force nationwide in June 2023.
France is reacting to the energy crisis triggered by the Ukraine war as well as to domestic problems caused by the numerous nuclear power plants that have been shut down. Most recently, 23 of 56 reactors were shut down, partly because of delayed maintenance work and partly because of technical problems.
At the end of November, a coal-fired power plant in Saint-Avold in eastern France that had been shut down in the spring was restarted. Around 500,000 tons of coal are to be burned there by the end of March.